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'Sight to behold': U.S. Air Force cargo jet lands in Regina

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Regina’s International Airport hosted a true aerial behemoth late last week – courtesy of the United States Air Force (USAF).

In the evening hours of Friday, June 14, a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III touched down at YQR – the rare sighting captured by eagle eyed aircraft enthusiasts.

The military transport had begun its journey hours earlier, halfway across the globe in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Weighing 265 tonnes fully loaded – the equivalent of more than three Boeing 737s at maximum capacity – the aircraft had stopped off at Saskatchewan’s capital for refueling.

“When I say large, I mean massive. This plane has a wingspan that's actually wider than our runways. Runways are 150 feet wide, and these wings are wider than that,” James Bogusz, president and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority, explained to CTV News.

“We don't see planes of that size and weight [regularly]. So I imagine that local residents that night would have seen something very different in the skies.”

According to the U.S. Air Force, the C-17 can haul 102 troops including their gear, 36 stretchers as well as 54 ambulatory patients and attendants or 170,900 pounds of cargo.

YQR’s main runway is recorded as 7,901 feet in length – the Air Force claims the C-17 can take off from less than half that distance.

“This aircraft is all horsepower, the four massive engines that require clearly a lot of fuel. This aircraft can actually take off on a short 3,500 foot runway,” Bogusz said. “Imagine something that large with that much stress taking off. Quite the sight to behold.

According to Flightradar24, the Globemaster arrived at YQR from Hawaii at around 10 p.m. CST and took off two hours later.

The flight’s destination was listed as Terceira Island, Portugal, part of the Azores Archipelago in the mid Atlantic.

While it’s rare to see an aircraft of such size hosted in Regina – it’s far from unheard of.

In November of 2023, two USAF KC-135 stratotankers were spotted landing in Regina. The pair of air-to-air refuelers spent the night at the airport before transporting 50 Royal Canadian Air Force students from 15 Wing Moose Jaw to Texas for training.

“Part of being an internationally designated airport is the ability to ensure that we have the appropriate facilities and in addition to ensure that military aircraft, whether they be from Canada or the U.S., can use our airport unencumbered,” Bogusz explained.

“It's a nice way to say we go out of our way to help those who need to land here with both the Canadian and the U.S. Military.”

Other large airframes hosted in Saskatchewan’s capital included a Boeing 787, which saw a direct flight from Warsaw, Poland to Regina transport Ukrainian refugees to the Queen City.

YQR hosted four of the five refugee flights that eventually made their way to Saskatchewan.

Bogusz said he appreciates the interest of airplane enthusiasts in the city and knows they’ll continue with their eyes firmly trained toward the skies.

“We love our plane spotters here at the airport and their ability to capture very interesting aircraft, both general aviation and commercial aviation,” he said.

“This is a very busy airport. We see a lot of cool planes and we just appreciate that this one particularly caught the eye of many.”

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